Dr. Nicholas Mitsiades, a rising cancer researcher, has been named the third Caroline Wiess Law Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine, an award designated to recruit and retain accomplished, young physician-scientists who have the potential to translate scientific discoveries into effective clinical applications.

Mitsiades joined the BCM faculty in September, 2010, as an assistant professor of hematology and oncology and of molecular and cellular biology. He is also a member of the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at BCM and a Duncan Scholar, a program which helps recruit new junior faculty members by providing them support for their academic, research or clinical research interests.

Young scientist

"Dr. Mitsiades is one of the most talented clinician scientists recruited to BCM in many years," said Dr. Kent Osborne, director of the Duncan Cancer Center at BCM. "His extensive training in cell biology and clinical medicine and his intellectual curiosity guarantees that he will make significant contributions in biomedical research in the future that will improve the care of cancer patients."

An expert in endocrinology and oncology, Mitsiades is a very accomplished young scientist. He has authored more than 115 scientific papers and received numerous awards including the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Merit Award, Young Investigator Award and Career Development Award, as well as grants from the American Association of Cancer Research and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Mitsiades' research focuses on the development of novel endocrine therapies (treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormones) for prostate cancer, with a particular focus on castration-refractory disease (patients that eventually become resistant to hormone therapy).

Cancer sensitivity

"The study of endocrine therapies in prostate cancer is critical since the cancer is driven by the male sex hormone testosterone," said Dr. Martha Mims, chief of hematology and oncology in the Duncan Cancer Center at BCM.

Mitsiades' research has led to new understanding of mechanisms of cancer sensitivity, and the identification of biomarkers of this sensitivity, determination of pathways of resistance to therapy and appropriate combinations to overcome this resistance.

Targeting pathways

"I am thrilled to be working at Baylor College of Medicine with research pioneers like Dr. Bert O'Malley (professor and chair of molecular and cellular biology) who discovered the key mechanisms that mediate the action of hormones in cancer and other diseases," said Mitsiades. "My research is directly linked to his work, and we aim to develop new drugs for cancer treatment based on targeting the pathways that he has discovered."

A native of Greece, Mitsiades completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as post-graduate training in internal medicine and pathology at the University of Athens. He immigrated to the United States in 1996 where he received extensive post-doctoral research training at the National Institutes of Health (1996 – 1999), Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass. (1999 – 2000) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, also in Boston (2001 – 2003). From 2003 – 2006, he completed a three-year internal medicine residency program, followed by a one-year clinical fellowship in endocrinology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Prior to joining BCM, he completed a fellowship in medical oncology and endocrinology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY.

The Caroline Wiess Law Scholar receives support for his or her program for the first three years with the expectation that the scientist will then have obtained sufficient funding to continue his/her work.

The late Caroline Wiess Law was a generous Houston philanthropist whose estate endowed the Scholar program. Her relationship with BCM began in 1970 and continued until her death in 2003. Her generosity has benefited many BCM departments.

Dr. Bobby R. Alford serves as director of the Caroline Wiess Law Endowment for Academic Excellence Award which was established at BCM in 2004.

In 2009, Dr. Sean McGuire was announced as the first Caroline Wiess Law Scholar at BCM and in 2010 Dr. Leonid Metelitsa was named the second Caroline Wiess Law Scholar.